The Indian teen is a finalist for Prince William's Earthshot Prize.
A 14-year-old named Vinisha Umashankar has her hands full, with schoolwork, five projects "aiming to solve environmental problems," and a potentially prize-winning invention. What invention, you may ask? Umashankar, the youngest finalist for Prince William's new Earthshot Prize, has created an "ingenious solar-powered alternative for the millions of charcoal-burning ironing carts that ply the streets of India’s cities—pressing clothes for workers and families."
Kidangoor explains, "Ironing vendors, called 'press wallahs,' pushing their carts from one neighborhood to the next are a common sight in India. According to the Indian government’s science and technology department, there are an estimated 10 million ironing carts in the country. Each of them uses about 11 pounds of charcoal daily, taking a heavy toll on the country’s air and forests."
Umashankar's cart, which features a roof that "doubles up as a panel that absorbs sunlight to convert ... into electricity to fuel the iron," has huge potential to make a difference, if she can win the £1 million ($1.3 million) to get it into the manufacturing process.
Still, there is a number of great ideas on the Earthshot Prize docket, an initiative which plans to give £50 million ($68 million) to 50 innovators over the next 10 years, hoping to create "at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest problems by 2030."
The other 14 finalists include the Republic of Costa Rica "for a scheme that helped revive rainforests" and Milan, Italy, for "cutting down on waste while trying to resolve hunger." Mark your calendars for October 17, the day five winners will be announced and given £1 million each—and send your thoughts, prayers, good vibes, and anything else you have toward Umashankar and her solar-powered cart.
Whatever happens, Umashankar herself believes that its "collective action" will save the world. So let's act!
We'd love to hear your thoughts on Umashankar, and ways you've found to make a difference! Share in the comments.